Marlow Briggs. A name synonymous with James Bond, Max Power, Duke Nukem and…Ok, who am I kidding. No one has Mr Briggs on their list as a top action hero of all time, but perhaps they should. Sure he’s not the most original of protagonists, but he’s got one hell of a bag packed with cheesy and clichéd one liners along with a ton of humour and all the fast paced action you could ask for. Plus he’s even got a game named after him, who else can say that? (I’m looking at you John McClane)
A third person slasher which feels and plays a lot like this summer’s Deadpool or God of War, playing as Marlow Briggs in a bid to save the world and his girlfriend from the grips of an evil madman, but only after first tasting the bitter defeat of death to then be resurrected by an ancient Mayan mask (which conveniently transforms into a totally badass tribal tattoo in day glow blue) harbouring the soul of an ancient and crazed action hero. Who can blame him, no one to talk to for thousands of years, you’re bound to go crazy!
Sure the story is completely over the top and ridiculous but what great action title has a serious note hidden within it, apart from the rare few such as Max Payne. Marlow Briggs is all about the action and crazy one liners which are delightfully tongue in cheek, and manage to balance its clichés and tropes in a way that veterans such as Duke Nukem just couldn’t manage. Running into battle after screaming “trust me… it’s going to be a bloodbath” never gets old. For me anyway.
The relationship built between Marlow and his new companion felt like something from a typical buddy-action flick and offers some great dialogue, along with chances to make fun of the gaming world. Too many times I’d miss a jump only to be mocked about my inadequacy as a gamer “Did you think you saw some enemies down there?”
Thankfully the humour and general comedy factor isn’t there to mask the cracks of an awful game, quite the contrary in fact. Marlow Briggs feels like a sturdy title. The environments are ever-changing and vast, with puzzles and challenges lighting the way but only ever so often as to compliment the carnage going on around you. At the very least, to give those thumbs a rest.
As you progress through the game you’ll be given the chance to utilise the powers of your ancient partner, summoning all kinds of traps for your foes like tornadoes and electrical storms which bulk out your mainly mêlée based combat system. occasionally you’ll stumble across a turret or two, just begging you to shred a sea of ever advancing enemies but Marlow Briggs offers you a mainly visceral fighting experience which starts you off with a double-ended, fairly short blade and works you up to better and more blood thirsty tools of death such as chains. A nice little nod to that God fella, the one who likes War.
Overall the combat flows freely which is one of the reasons you’ll find the game so infectious, happy to give just a few more minutes to Mr.Briggs as you plough through the story in ever more violent ways. It’s not perfect however, with the platforming leaving a little to be desired with some un-even controls and the camera angles are plagued by some awkward fixed locations which can leave you stumbling at the same checkpoint for some time. An issue that so many games have had problems with.
It’s not all bad news though, many of the faults are easily forgivable, often with the game paced as it is, you’ll soon forget your woes once you make it past whatever section that may have plagued you with troubles.
Boss battles make a welcome appearance, but in a more modest fashion. Often tasking you with killing a commander of sorts in a very organised fashion and always ending in a bullet time guided tour of the bloodfest – cheesy as it sounds, it does looks pretty damn cool. One such encounter had me dodging and rolling away from huge chains, waiting for the chance to amble up and deliver a deliciously painful blow to a crazed foe’s face. In slow-mo of course.
Overall Marlow Briggs is a great arcade title, offering some fairly slick visuals with addictive and faced place gameplay its everything you could expect from an action title. It’s not perfect, with some extremely familiar territory covered along with some touchy camera angles, but it is unabashed fun. Moving from crazy situation to the next at 100mph is something you’ll be hooked on. Just don’t expect a long-lasting experience, this is red-bull not malt whisky.
Grab your masks and get going!